By Corri Peterson
Many symptoms are linked to poor thyroid function; however, there are ten common low thyroid symptoms that are the most bothersome.
To help you understand the symptoms you are experiencing, let’s start with some background information. There are eleven major regulatory systems in the body, one of which is the Endocrine System.
This system consists of glands that produce and secrete hormones. Metabolism, sexual function, and bodily growth are established and regulated through the hormones secreted by the endocrine system. These hormones are chemical messengers that transfer information from one group of cells to another to coordinate and control multiple bodily functions.
One of the vital glands of the endocrine system is the thyroid. With low thyroid hormone, your body doesn’t interact correctly, creating various uncomfortable symptoms. (If you purchase through the links in this post, we may receive a commission.) Unfortunately, many low thyroid symptoms (also known as an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism) mimic other medical conditions, so getting the correct diagnosis is sometimes challenging.
Women experience most of the symptoms listed; however, more men are developing thyroid problems. The elderly with low thyroid function may develop memory issues and depression, and children may have slowed growth and mental development. Teenagers may start puberty earlier than normally expected.
As you can see, thyroid issues can affect a wide variety of people.
Ten Common Low Thyroid Symptoms:
The number one complaint from those with low thyroid symptoms is tiredness. It’s a persistent feeling of exhaustion that never seems to go away regardless of how much sleep or rest you get. For many, the fatigue becomes debilitating, causing sufferers to limit daily activities and skip social gatherings. Some can’t make it through the day without a nap.
If you are suffering from bone-numbing fatigue, schedule a check-up with your doctor. For those already taking medication, it could be that your thyroid medication needs to be tweaked. Or maybe you need a complete thyroid panel to determine if a course of action is necessary to improve your energy levels. A low functioning thyroid is a cause of tiredness; additional culprits include depression, sleep apnea, iron deficiency, and stress.
You can ease your tiredness with simple small changes that nourish and support your thyroid.
#2 Unexplained Progressive Weight Gain
Weight gain is another common symptom of those with a sluggish thyroid. Since your thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism and energy levels, it makes sense that you will gain weight if your metabolism is slow. Unfortunately, those struggling with low thyroid function often find it impossible to lose weight even when eating very little.
However, many doctors will tell you that no more than 5 to 10% of that excess weight is due to a slow thyroid. They will recommend you to eat less, exercise more (for those so exhausted they can’t get off the couch, this poses a problem), and drink more water.
While drinking more water is usually a part of the weight loss plan, your metabolism is slower when your thyroid is not producing enough hormones. So your body retains fluids, leaving it bloated, constipated, and unable to clear out toxins as it should.
Also, keep in mind that low thyroid hormone can cause joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation, making physical exercise very uncomfortable, if not impossible.
If you are struggling with low thyroid hormone levels, look at reducing toxins in your diet and environment so your thyroid can start to heal, and then modify your exercise plan to match your fitness levels and energy levels.
Constipation is a miserable, annoying symptom of low thyroid hormones. Since these hormones play a role in managing your bodily functions’ speed, every system throughout your body slows down when these levels are low. For many, treating low thyroid hormone levels solves most issues, but certain medications and supplements can cause constipation.
Some supplements can ease constipation, such as magnesium. Magnesium relaxes the muscles that line the digestive tract and helps the stool move more quickly. Unfortunately, many don’t consume enough fiber-rich foods, while others find relief by eliminating gluten and dairy.
#4 Hypersensitive to Cold
Are you always cold? Being cold is a common complaint of those with low thyroid function. A slowed-down metabolism can lead to a drop in your core body temperature. Some people with low thyroid hormone levels feel cold all the time or have a low tolerance to the cold.
For many, this cold feeling persists, even in a warm home or during the summer months. Optimizing your thyroid levels eases this bone-chilling cold, as does an increase in your consumption of thyroid-boosting foods and improving your B-12 levels.
#5 Dry and Scaly Skin
Low thyroid hormone levels can cause cool, dry, pale skin. In addition, many suffer from additional problems that include itchy, cracked, and scaly skin. A recent study found that dry, coarse skin was the number one skin symptom reported by participants with low thyroid symptoms—it affected 100 percent of them.
Many dermatologists recommend using moisturizers that come in a jar or tub because these tend to be more moisturizing than those with a pump. Holistic practitioners recommend using natural oils like coconut oil or shea butter to avoid skin irritations from chemicals found in many moisturizers. I also like to use baby lotions for my body; they are very gentle, moisturizing, and have no harmful ingredients.
#6 Brittle Hair and Nails
Brittle, dry hair and nails are frequent low thyroid symptoms and one of the most commonly complained about. Unfortunately, many who have problems with their hair and nails aren’t aware that it’s linked to a thyroid issue. I have heard from many who suffer from low thyroid hormone levels about how bad their hair and nails are, but they often have no clue why.
As with all the other functions in your body, when hormone production is interrupted, it disrupts cells’ growth and reproduction; this is also true with your hair and nails.
Many women complain about losing the outer third of their eyebrows, another common low thyroid symptom. Many who have weak nails and dry hair will use biotin supplements to improve them, but be aware you should avoid taking those supplements a few days before having any thyroid testing done. Biotin is known to skew test results to show falsely lower TSH levels leading to an incorrect diagnosis or improper dosing.
#7 Depression and Anxiety
Many times depression and anxiety are not recognized as low thyroid symptoms. Although they are separate conditions, depression or anxiety and low thyroid have so many similar symptoms that doctors sometimes overlook the possibility that if one is depressed, they may also have low thyroid or vice versa.
Anxiety is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism, but it is also a symptom of hypothyroidism. Researchers aren’t sure why there is a link between depression and low thyroid; however, they are sure some are taking antidepressants when they should be taking thyroid medication.
Pampering your thyroid and easing your stress levels will also help improve your mood.
#8 Irregular Periods and Loss of Sex Drive
Low thyroid hormones cause a hormone imbalance leading to problems with your menstrual cycle and your sex drive. Not only can your monthly period disrupt, but there are also several other issues linked to low thyroid. For example, vaginal dryness is a common problem for women with low thyroid.
Low testosterone causes low libido, and while often referred to as the “man’s” hormone, it can also lower sex drive in women.
Ejaculation issues, premature or delayed, and erectile dysfunction, are complications low thyroid can cause for men.
Improving thyroid function can ease the symptoms so you can have an enjoyable sex life again.
#9 Puffy Face
Low thyroid hormone often leads to puffiness, fluid retention, and swelling in the feet, legs, and face. Swelling in the face from low thyroid hormone commonly refers to puffiness and swelling around the eyes, lips, and cheekbones. This symptom is so common that many doctors refer to it as “myxoedema.”
If you are experiencing puffiness in your face, boosting your thyroid function will reduce fluid retention and ease facial puffiness.
#10 Elevated blood cholesterol levels
One of the most common low thyroid symptoms is high cholesterol; you need thyroid hormones to produce cholesterol and dispose of the excess you don’t need. Unfortunately, low thyroid hormones slow your body from breaking down and removing LDL cholesterol efficiently, thus creating a build-up in your blood.
A slight decrease in your thyroid hormones can cause an increase in your cholesterol levels. Even those with subclinical hypothyroidism can have elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Many times increasing your thyroid function is all that is needed to keep your cholesterol in check.
When you aren’t producing enough thyroid hormones, the chemical reactions throughout your body can be upset. These upsets include autoimmune disease, treatments for hyperthyroidism, radiation therapy, thyroid removal, and some medications.
The thyroid regulates the speed of your body’s functions, so when you have low thyroid problems, your entire body feels like it’s out of sync and run down. If your thyroid function continues to slow, your quality of life will start to suffer.
Here are the most common thyroid problems:
Hypothyroidism: Your thyroid doesn’t produce adequate thyroid hormones to maintain your body’s functions correctly.
Hyperthyroidism-Your thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, which can increase your metabolism, raise your heart rate and cause hand tremors.
Thyroid Cancer-Many times, the only symptom of thyroid cancer is a lump on your thyroid. The good news is that 98% of thyroid cancers are curable.
Thyroid Nodules-It’s estimated that up to 75% of the population risk developing thyroid nodules. However, less than 1% of nodules are malignant, and most are diagnosed during exams or X-rays looking for other health issues.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis-This autoimmune disease creates antibodies that attack your thyroid. As the disease progresses, your thyroid becomes inflamed and loses the ability to make thyroid hormones.
Graves’ disease-This autoimmune disease creates antibodies that cause the thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone. Disease progression includes heart palpitations, weight loss, and hand tremors.
Subclinical hypothyroidism-Many believe this is the beginning of hypothyroidism. Your TSH is above average but still within the laboratory range. One study shows that one-fourth of those with subclinical hypothyroidism will develop full-blown hypothyroidism within six years.
Many times stress, poor diet, and a lack of nutrients can affect your thyroid function. Reducing stress, focusing on thyroid-boosting foods, and eating a well-balanced diet will improve your thyroid function and ease symptoms.
Many of those frustrated when conventional medical treatments fail to ease their symptoms turn to holistic or functional medicine doctors who address slow thyroid function by lowering the toxic overload by cleaning out the body’s chemical build-up.
Then they focus on nourishing the thyroid and body with whole foods, clean water, and chemical-free personal and cleaning products.
There are thyroid-disrupting chemicals everywhere, in our food, air, water, cosmetics, household appliances and furnishings, pesticides, and herbicides, along with industrial compounds.
These are a few of the most common and damaging chemicals:
Two common, dangerous chemicals are found in pesticides.
Phthalates, lead, and Bisphenol A (BPA)
Common in children’s products, plastics, and food storage containers.
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
Flame retardants in fabrics, paints, electronics, and bedding.
Found in rocket propellants, airbags, and fertilizers.
Perchlorate is known to impair thyroid iodine uptake, reducing the functionality of the gland.
Bisphenol-A and Phthalates
Common in toys, cosmetics, tubes, food wrappers, and appliances. Studies show exposure leads to thyroid disruption and reduced iodine uptake.
There are hundreds of studies showing the impact of these various chemicals on human health. In general, these toxins are especially harmful to the endocrine, immune and nervous systems.
In addition, several cancers have links to many of these chemicals.
Your Path To Improve Your Low Thyroid Symptoms:
Most start on their thyroid health journey by having their TSH levels checked when experiencing low thyroid symptoms, but many fail to find relief from their symptoms with medication alone.
This approach is especially true with autoimmune diseases. Instead, they find the best approach to improving low thyroid function is a whole-body care plan aimed to cleanse, nourish, and support not only the endocrine system but the entire body.